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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jinki and Dalpurra Creeks

This was a daywalk to explore some of the creeks and canyons of the Upper Grose Valley, starting from Bells Line of Road at Jinki Ridge (Mount Wilson 501867). A well-formed track leads from here down to Dalpura Creek, through gorgeous pagoda country. Sadly, our regular photographer was not able to make this walk, so we can't capture it with the usual level of artistry

We were on the track a little after 10.00 and across the valley we could see Thor Head
An hour's walk brought us to where Dalpurra creek plunges down through a narrow cleft into the Grose valley
Countless small honeyeaters were streaming up through the cleft, flying from tree to tree. There were so many that we joked they must be going around in circles. Despite the lack of binoculars we managed to get enough field marks to identify the White-naped honeyeater (Melithreptus lunatus) and this turned out to be a well-known phenomena in April when large, mixed-species flocks of this and another honeyeater move north through the mountains. "Through the Blue Mountains they follow particular pathways which are determined by topography and vegetation. As they come up the deep valleys such as the Jamison, they reach the cliffline and are funnelled into the major gullies where there's a break in the cliff and it's a bit easier to move up onto the plateau."

From here on the creek can only be explored with canyoning gear, and we stared enviously down at the point where someone has left an anchor for abseiling
However, the creek further upstream is well worth a look, running through a pretty canyon section
There is a (currently dry) waterfall where water from a side-creek drops into the main watercourse.

We returned by the same track to the watershed between Dalpurra and Jinki Creeks (Mount Wilson 496859), just before the track ascends a small cliff line via a water-smoothed rock slope. Here, at around 12.00, we headed south west aiming to pick our way diagonally down the slope to the track to the old coal mine in Jinki Gully but without getting into the impassable vegetation in the bottom of the gully. For the first bit of this we followed a smooth, rocky watercourse
We managed to hit the creek just as Jinki Gully narrows and the canopy closes to suppress the vegetation. Following the creek we soon hit the track, which has been freshly marked with pink tape
Just before the old mine, however, the track has been washed away by a dramatic landslip. Ironically, this is immediately after someone has rigged a rope handrail to make the track safer!
It seemed very ill-advised to try to cross this, as the soil is still very loose and water still running down over the top of the slip. This is what is left of the track, photographed from the far side near the top of the slip:
So we dropped down into the creek bed, crossed the bottom of the landslip, and climbed back up to the mine
Here we are at our destination, at about 13.30.
There is a continual stream of water from the mine, which nothing seems able to grow in, supposedly because of heavy metal concentrations. As a result the wet sandstone appears bright orange

This gives the cascade down to the creek a dramatic appearance
We had lunch and a brew-up while admiring the cliffs on the far side of the Gully
and further cliffs marching away down the Grose valley past Dalpurra Creek
After lunch we headed back up the track, aiming to see where it rejoins the road. Although clearly marked with pink tape, it is more of a route than a track and just pushes through the undergrowth on a diagonal line up the west side of Jinki Gully, aiming to regain the high ground. Apart from avoiding the need to navigate the 'track' isn't significantly easier than the way we came down and rather longer.
We abandoned the pink tape track when we regained the high ground (491863) as it was heading away from the car. It may loop around touching Jungaburra Brook before turning east to rejoin the road near our starting point, or it may continue north to join one of the the dirt roads around Watertrough Hill. As the high country here is pretty easy walking we simply took a beeline back to the car, eventually finding the Jinki Ridge track again a couple of hundred meters from the road. Here we are relaxing on a rock pinnacle on this final part of the walk:
The true end of our labours, however, came with the Victorian splendour of the Mt Vic Hotel and a well-earned ale.

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